Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 Review
Conclusion - Pros
- High resolution, very sharp results with lots of detail
- Unique 'widescreen' 16:9 mode
- 28mm wideangle (16:9 mode only)
- Comprehensive photographic control
- High quality construction, lovely design
- Good edge-to-edge sharpness
- Excellent white balance
- Feels fast and responsive
- Fast focus and low shutter lag
- Big, bright, high resolution screen screen
- Reliable exposure and focus
- Image stabilization
- Excellent on-screen menus and control system
- Raw and TIFF modes
- Plenty of in-camera control over image parameters
- Easy to use
Conclusion - Cons
- Noise, noise, noise
- Occasional exposure / dynamic range problems in very contrasty scenes
- Supplied raw converter useless
- Default settings a little over-sharpened, a little too contrasty
- Quite expensive
Panasonic continues to offer innovation where most manufacturers have become content with an endless round of 'me too' product and minor upgrades. The LX1 is a perfect example; a camera designed for serious photographers, a camera that has the potential - on paper at least - to be the ideal replacement for a digital SLR when you don't want the bulk, or weight hanging round your neck. It has, without doubt, the best manual controls of any camera in its class, and the Leica lens is undoubtedly sharp (there's rumors the LX1 may end up re branded as a Leica D-Lux 2). Of course I'd prefer a mechanical zoom and a real focus ring, but I'm happy with the balance between functionality and size the LX1 offers, and I found myself reaching for it more often than any other camera on my desk at the moment. So, yes, I liked the LX1 a lot. The 16:9 widescreen mode may be a bit 'love it or hate it' (I personally loved the creative options it gave me), but you can always switch to a more conventional aspect ratio without losing too many pixels. The image stabilization system is a real boon for hand-held photography, the handling excellent and the sheer enjoyment factor puts it way ahead of many of its competitors.
If you feel a 'but' coming on, here it is. To release a camera so obviously aimed at the serious photographer, to add so many usable manual controls, to put a razor-sharp Leica lens on the front and then to drop in a chip / processor that is so noisy you can't use it above ISO 100 is quite simply unforgivable. It's like buying a Ferrari and discovering it maxes out at 55 mph.
Now I'm going to qualify this slightly; at ISO 80 and 100 the results are slightly noisier than most 6 and 7MP cameras, but they also show a lot more detail and look a lot sharper, so this is probably more a reflection of Panasonic's approach to noise reduction than a serious problem with the chip. You can tease some amazing results from the LX1 at low ISOs if you're prepared to do some work - specifically shooting in raw mode and tweaking the parameters in Adobe Camera Raw (forget the supplied software - it's worse than useless). At ISO 200 and 400 noise is a serious issue, and you certainly won't want to print very large, but again the inherent quality of the lens means there's plenty of detail, and if you're prepared to do some work yourself (either using noise reduction software or shooting raw), the results are just the right side of acceptable. Of course having an effective IS system to a certain extent reduces the reliance on high ISO in low light, but it doesn't mean you'll never use it. Finally, how important an issue noise is will vary from person to person - take a look at the sample gallery shots and make your own mind up.
We had real difficulty deciding between Above Average and Recommended for the LX1; it is capable of delivering stunning resolution, sharpness and detail - and is stuffed to the gills with useful photographic features, but for a camera to exhibit this level of noise at ISO 80 in 2005 is pretty unforgivable. Take a look at the full size shots, print them if you want, and decide for yourself if you're happy to make a compromise on noise in order to get all that detail.
The a9 boasts impressive capability. As more examples of it in practice pour in, Sony's claims hold up. Watch the a9 track and maintain focus on a rapidly approaching basketball.
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more